Brazil Olympic Men's Soccer Team 2012: Updated News, Roster and Analysis

Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IIJuly 10, 2012

Brazil Olympic Men's Soccer Team 2012: Updated News, Roster and Analysis

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    Brazilian soccer brass selected its final 18-man roster for the 2012 London Olympics on July 6, and it's about as impressive a list of names as you might expect.

    Manager Mano Menezes has established European stars, oodles of attacking prowess and, as always, an enviable wealth of emerging talent.

    But does this group have the right mix of youth and experience to deliver Brazil's first ever Olympic gold medal in soccer?

    We answer that question and more in the slides ahead.

Final Roster

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    The Brazilian Olympic roster, as organized by B/R's own Dan Tallintyre:

    Goalkeepers

    Rafael Cabral (Santos)

    Neto (Fiorentina)

     

    Defenders

    Marcelo (Real Madrid)

    Rafael da Silva (Manchester United)

    Danilo (FC Porto)

    Alex Sandro (FC Porto)

    Thiago Silva (AC Milan)

    Juan (Inter Milan)

    Bruno Uvini (Sao Paulo)

     

    Midfielders

    Romulo (Vasco da Gama)

    Ganso (Santos)

    Oscar (Internacional)

    Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur)

    Lucas (Sao Paulo)

     

    Forwards

    Neymar (Santos)

    Alexandre Pato (AC Milan)

    Leandro Damiao (Internacional)

    Hulk (FC Porto)

     

    Replacements

    Marquinhos (Corinthians)

    Giuliano (Dniepr/UKR)

    Cassemiro (Sao Paulo)

    Gabriel (AC Milan/ITA)

     

    Note: Each male soccer team is allowed three players over 23. All over-age selections are highlighted in italics.

Key Players

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    Neymar (Forward):

    The 20-year-old dribbling wizard has enough raw skill to elevate this tournament—much like Lionel Messi did in 2008.

    Detractors say that the young virtuoso hasn't proven himself in Europe. Supporters point to his peerless goal-scoring resume at Brazilian club Santos—accompanied by a jaw-dropping archive of YouTube clips—and say he has already arrived.

    Brazil hopes he has because its gold-medal hopes likely rest on his ability to punish foes from the wing.

     

    Thiago Silva (Defender):

    Silva, an over-age selection, has long made it clear that he wanted to play in these Games. The 27-year-old should be the heart and soul of Brazil's back line, and will be counted on as much for his leadership as he will his playing ability.

    Which isn't to say he can't play. Silva has long been one of Europe's better central defenders.

     

    Marcelo (Defender)

    One of the world's best left backs, Marcelo has been a mainstay for Real Madrid dating back to 2007. He's the rare defender who can press forward and mark with equal aplomb.

     

    Oscar (Midfielder)

    Oscar has been a name to watch on the international scene ever since his hat trick in the 2011 U-20 World Cup final secured Brazil's victory over colonial rival Portugal.

    He doesn't have the profile of AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato or Internacional goalscorer Leandro Damiao, but he could play a crucial role in this tournament at the center of Brazil's attack.

Main Challengers

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    Spain

    On paper, Spain is the only side that measures up to Brazil. Even without a full complement of over-age players, Spain will feature three players from its victorious Euro 2012 squad along with emerging Bilbao playmaker Ander Herrera.

     

    Great Britain

    The team has talent and should receive the full-throated support of locals, but will it cohere? Great Britain hasn't assembled an Olympic soccer team since 1971, and the onus will be Welsh captain Ryan Giggs, one of the team's three over-age selections, to get everyone on the same page.

     

    Mexico

    El Tri looked brilliant during an undefeated qualifying run, and even without Manchester star Javier Hernandez, should have a ferocious attack. The nucleus of this team finished third at the 2011 U-20 World Cup and has fans excited about the future of Mexican football. Forward Alan Pulido and defender Diego Reyes are both named to watch.

Prediction

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    Brazil will win the Olympic soccer tournament.

    And it's not just because Brazil might have the best collection of talent we've ever seen at a Summer Games—although that certainly plays a part—that conclusion is just as much a derivative of the fact that Brazil wants to win gold.

    That might seem a rather elementary rationale, but soccer powerhouses like Brazil haven't always treated this competition as a win-at-all-cost affair.

    But not this time, at least not in Brazil. The green and yellow have recruited a fantastic trio of over-age stars, and will feature a full cadre of its best young talent.

    Spain can't say that. Great Britain can't say that. Even Mexico can't say that.

    Clearly, the country's soccer brass wants this trophy on its mantle heading into a 2014 World Cup on home soil.

    Very simply, I expect they'll get it done.

    Of course those expectations come with pressure, but the weight of that pressure will be no match for the talent Brazil has amassed.